Two filings were submitted to the USPTO in the wake of Hurricane Harvey for “HOUSTON STRONG” trademarks. In all likelihood, these “marks” fail to function, are ornamental and/or purely informational sayings. In my opinion, they should not be registered by the USPTO. Would the applicant really have any claim to stop someone else from making shirts that say HOUSTON STRONG, or from raising money for charity using the phrase HOUSTON STRONG? I highly doubt it. The phrase is too ubiquitous to indicate the source of the goods or services.
Both applications were filed based on an “intent to use” the marks in commerce. The ‘charitable’ application was filed by an attorney.
- HOUSTON STRONG – Application Serial No. 87594794 for use with ‘Charitable fundraising; Charitable fundraising services by means of an entertainment event’
- Houston Strong – Application Serial No. 87593706 for use with ‘Baseball caps; Shirts’
As with the filings for BOSTON STRONG made after the marathon bombing in 2013, I predict that the USPTO to refuse each of these applications. I also urge the applicants to pro-actively abandon their efforts to signal that they would not try to stop anyone else from using the phrase HOUSTON STRONG. As I said in an article about the BOSTON STRONG FILINGS, “These [applicants] have very little to gain and a lot to lose in terms of reputation,” said Pelton, who said he found the applications “particularly offensive.”
Also note that three filings were submitted for MAKE HOUSTON GREAT AGAIN. They are likely to have a similar fate at the USPTO: